County Kildare is Irish horse country, home of the National Stud (near Kildare town), the Punchtown Racecourse and the 5,000-acre common known as The Curragh, where much horse breeding and trading takes place. The Curragh stood in for Scotland in the battle scenes of Mel Gibson's film "Braveheart." Kildare, a primarily rural county about 25 miles from Dublin, also is known for golf, fishing and some of Ireland's best country house hotels.
Barberstown Castle comes highly recommended, with a Fodor's "Choice Distinction" for 2010 as well as mentions in The Good Hotel Guide and the Michelin Guide. The privately owned hotel has a history of eight centuries of occupation. It was built around a 13th century tower to which Elizabethan and Victorian wings have been added. The hotel's 58 rooms are furnished with antiques and named for previous owners of the castle, from Nicholas Barby in 1288 to Eric Clapton, who owned Barberstown between 1979 and 1987. Previous guests include Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Mick Jagger, Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel, Steve Winwood, George Harrison, Arnold Palmer and many more celebrities, musicians, artists and writers.
Carton House in Maynooth, County Kildare, is an impressive country house that once belonged to the Earls of Kildare and the Duke of Leinster. The house was built in 1739 and remodeled in 1815. The hotel sits in the middle of a cedar wood estate and golf course dotted with historic cottages and unusual historic rooms, such as the baroque Gold Salon. Carton House, lost to the earls of Kildare to pay off a gambling debt, was a favorite of Queen Victoria. The late Princess Grace and Prince Ranier of Monaco as well as Peter Sellers were once occupants of Carton House.
Kildare Hotel, Spa and Country Club
The Kildare Hotel, Spa and Country Club, usually referred to as the K Club Kildare, is a country hotel and golf club in Straffan, County Kildare, winner of the AA Ireland's "Hotel of the Year" for 2010-2011. A sprawling, white hotel, the K Club was built on the grounds of Straffan House, which dates from the mid-19th century. This luxury hotel and spa is first and foremost a golf resort. It's two Arnold Palmer championship courses have hosted 11 European Opens and the 2006 Ryder Cup. Riding, clay pigeon shooting and fishing also are offered. The hotel boasts turning Tiger Woods into an angler.
Keadeen Hotel is a family-owned spa hotel in Newbridge, County Kildare, not far from the Irish National Stud's Japanese Gardens. Though not architecturally interesting, the hotel's public rooms and 75 luxury guest rooms are well decorated in a contemporary, country estate style. Fodor's recommends this hotel's ancient Roman-style pool as "a real sea of tranquility." The hotel offers moderately priced dinner, bed and breakfast packages as well as interconnecting rooms for family groups. Guests planning a stay at the height of the summer season should be aware that this hotel is a busy wedding venue.
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